West Allegheny girls soccer defeats Kiski Area to advance to first semifinal in program history

Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 8:58 PM

For the first time in school history, the West Allegheny girls soccer team is headed to the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

After a first half in which West Allegheny and Kiski Area recorded five shots and four saves apiece, the ball finally started to find the back of the net.

West Allegheny junior Mackenzie Taranto scored two, and Mackenzie Evers added a third in the final eight minutes of the game as the third-seeded Indians (15-2) topped the sixth-seeded Cavaliers, 3-1, on Thursday at Mars High School.

“It’s honestly like a dream,” Taranto said. “I’m so proud of this team because it’s the farthest we’ve ever made it in the playoffs. It’s the first time winning our section, and I’m just really proud of everything we’ve done.”

Throughout the first half both teams created opportunities. Kiski Area’s Sidney Palla was stuffed inside the 6-yard box twice, and Taranto created a few opportunities for herself as well. Each time, it was a superb defensive effort that answered the bell.

Any time Kiski Area (13-5) created a run, the Indians found a way to make a stop. One of Palla’s first two chances was stuffed on the baseline by freshman goalie Kayla Howard and another West Allegheny defender.

“They are just solid in the back. I mean, that’s how we got here,” West Allegheny coach Dave Tissue said. “We just play as a team.”

The teams went into the break tied, but with the opportunities the Indians created, Taranto felt a goal would come at some point.

In the eighth minute of the second half, it did. Taranto received the ball toward the top of the box, turned and launched a shot for her 10th goal of the season.

“We knew if we kept working for each other and with each other that something would happen,” Taranto said. “We knew we just couldn’t give up and kept progressing forward.”

With the lead, the Indians were able to settle back into a defensive approach but still found ways to counter. They scored again around the 57th minute when Taranto hit a shot that ricocheted off a Kiski Area defender and rainbowed over Kiski Area goal keeper Maxine Crosby.

Tissue was happy with how his team responded in the second half.

“We didn’t play our game in the first half, and we started to possess the ball in the second,” Tissue said. “I think that made a big difference. We just needed to play our game.”

Palla finally got her team on the board with eight minutes left in the game, but the Indians answered quickly — almost 20 seconds later — when Mackenzie Evers finished off a Delaney Evers cross to put the game away.

The Indians earned their first playoff berth last season, then captured their first section title this season, which gives them an opportunity to hang a banner in the rafters at the high school.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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